This is wogma's first-day-first show review by Pradeep. You can find meetu's review here.
The keen must watch on screen; else DVD (Action/VFX buffs might prefer a theater watch)
Ra.One is a good concept that packs in enough set-pieces to make it a fair enough one-time watch on the big screen. However, the film will not make you truly go WOW, because it lacks the emotional punch to do so. The VFX are of a level that a good chunk of the Indian audience would not have been exposed to before, but still fall short of international standards. The music, the good looking cast and some scenes make the film watchable, but not unmissable.
How we enjoy watching the mighty fall. There is something almost perverse about the human nature that excites us, makes us almost enjoy the sight of a behemoth come crashing down. Today, in the minutes before the start of the first show of this year’s big Diwali release, Ra.one, one got the feeling that a large chunk of the audience were cynics, queuing to catch the show just so that they could say, ‘I told you so!’
The battle lines were always drawn between these cynics, who were sure that the film would be a disaster, and the die-hard fans who believed with fervor that the film would transcend all expectations. Fortunately or unfortunately, neither side can claim a true victory. The Anubhav Sinha-directed VFX extravaganza has its moments making it worth one watch, but no more.
At heart, the film is a story about a father who wants to live up to the expectations of his action-video-game-parallel-reality-influenced son, by creating a virtual reality computer game that his son would be proud of. Things take a turn for the CG-heavy unexpected when a breakthrough (and sufficiently dumbed-down) technology causes the game to start playing by itself.
The film is loaded with the energy that Shahrukh Khan is known for. The plot of the film, stripped to its bare bones, has potential. The music and background score are catchy, the actors (and Arjun Rampal) look good and the visual effects are (surprise surprise!), a first for Indian cinema. Some of the action set-pieces are exceptionally produced, a fact mirrored in the making-of snippets that appear in the end credits of the film. (Of course, those who are fed with a regular diet of mass-produced, VFX-filled mindless Hollywood action flicks will perhaps not be too impressed.) But one can safely say that Ra.one had enough ingredients to make a riveting, entertaining film.
What Ra.one lacks is good writing and direction. The screenplay, which has been understandably written to ensure maximum comprehension amongst the widest possible audience, is sadly uninspiring. It tends to sag at places, unnecessarily slowing down the pace of the film. Director Anubhav Sinha never had an impressive CV (Tum Bin, Dus, Tathastu, Cash) and his lack of a clear directorial vision shows. The intention to make an absolute epic is clearly visible, but the ability to do so is not.
Technically, the film takes homegrown VFX to the next level. The 3-D however, was a major disappointment. It adds absolutely nothing visually, thus making one conscious of the glasses all the time. Kareena Kapoor is gorgeous, but purely functional. Armaan, the boy who plays SRK’s son, has a certain charm, but one doubts if he will be memorable enough for the audience. SRK himself endearingly hams a smile out of you once in a while. Rajnikanth’s brief appearance is a clap-trap, but his face looks digitally mangled.
But what the film lacks most of all is soul. After all, how much can one look in fear and awe at a virtual villain? And how much hope can one see in the eyes of a virtual superhero? When one left the cinema hall after the screening, one didn’t feel that hint of a tug back, a wish to go and see once more if the characters are truly safe. The film lights a spark of magic, which is then relegated to just that - a spark. The magic doesn’t persist. It is this lack of emotional connect, the unfulfilled spark of magic, which will prove to be Ra.One’s biggest undoing.
As for Shahrukh Khan, perhaps even the most cynical cynic would grant the fact that… he tried.
Parental guidance: Advisable
- Violence: A number of VFX heavy action sequences
- Language: Fairly clean
- Nudity & Sexual content: None
- Concept: Very interesting premise
- General Look and Feel: Good for Indian cinema
- Direction: 2
- Story: 3
- Lead Actors: 3
- Character Artists: 2
- Dialogues: 3
- Screenplay: 2
- Music Director: 4
- Lyrics: 3